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Mike From Mesa

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  • The Last Praetorian

  • By: Mike Smith
  • Narrated by: David Benjamin Bliss
  • Length: 13 hrs and 52 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars 114
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 102
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars 102

Commander Jonathan Radec is a man desperately trying to escape from the mistakes of his past. Now the owner of Vanguard Shipping, his primary concerns are trying to keep his ships flying and his crew alive. However, the shadowy Syndicate organization has set their sights on the commander and his business, having sent a beautiful assassin to kill him. To make matters worse, she's become the target of his infatuation, much to the dismay of his ex-girlfriend.

  • 3 out of 5 stars
  • Mr. Bliss' performance is the saving grace for TLP

  • By T.W. Spencer on 08-27-15

A bit juvenile

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-22-19

I have a bit of a problem writing this review because I can not decide if it is the writing that that I find to be a bit juvenile or the main character himself. The story involves an ex-naval officer who used to be the head of a special Imperial detachment, but who is now the CEO of a space station, and his fight against various adversaries out to either kill him or take over his business. There is potential in there for a decent story, but few of the characters in this story seem either real or even plausible. In particular the main character is so racked with guilt over his supposed failures that he is unable to live a normal life and have a normal relationship with others, and it is hard to be sympathetic with his inability to move on. Instead he insists on continuing to hurt those who love him and does not even seem to understand how juvenile his actions are.

I might well have given up half way through the book except I kept reading, hoping to find how one of the protagonists ended up surviving explosive decompression, but other than the explanation that he was "indestructible" I learned nothing. The only bright spot in the book is the narration, which is excellent. The book contains a preview of the next book in the series but I have not bothered to listen to it. I keep asking myself if I want to spend the 30 minutes or so listening to more of this book.

  • The Killer Collective

  • By: Barry Eisler
  • Narrated by: Barry Eisler
  • Length: 11 hrs and 55 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,042
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 959
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 950

When a joint FBI-Seattle Police investigation of an international child pornography ring gets too close to certain powerful people, sex-crimes detective Livia Lone becomes the target of a hit that barely goes awry - a hit that had been offered to John Rain, a retired specialist in “natural causes.” Suspecting the FBI itself was behind the attack, Livia reaches out to former Marine sniper Dox. Together, they assemble an ad hoc group to identify and neutralize the threat. There’s Rain. Rain’s estranged lover, Mossad agent and honeytrap specialist Delilah. 

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • All of Eisler's key characters together

  • By Wayne on 02-03-19

Wow.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-17-19

I don't generally write reviews for this type of book since I don't see how my review can add anything to the hundreds that have already been written, but sometimes a book is so well or so poorly written and narrated that it demands a review. This book is one of those so well written that I feel I must add my voice to the reviews.

I had only read one previous Barry Eisler book before, a John Rain novella which I did not much enjoy, so this was a leap of faith for me, aided by it being on sale. I was attracted by both the plot and the intermix of all of the characters involved, and it was that mix that made this book so enjoyable for me. The plot is interesting and, as with books of this type, the process of following the threads as more and more information is found made the book intensely interesting. Added to that is the constant tension between the main characters. The group of killers, John Rain, Dox, Larison, Horton, Lone and Treven are all interesting in themselves, but I could almost feel the electricity between them as they both trusted and distrusted some of the others. Every chapter fairly crackled with tension since I had no idea where things would go.

The resolution of the mystery was completely satisfying and I found the characters sufficiently engaging to decide to buy at least one more book of this type by Barry Eisler. I do not know that I will buy any John Rain books as my experience with the one I bought was a bit disappointing but I will buy another involving these multiple characters. This Is a great book and Mr Eisler narrated it perfectly. 5 stars all around.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • The Forge of Christendom

  • The End of Days and the Epic Rise of the West
  • By: Tom Holland
  • Narrated by: James A. Gillies
  • Length: 15 hrs and 57 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 150
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 140
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 139

At the approach of the first millennium, the Christians of Europe did not seem likely candidates for future greatness. They saw no future beyond the widely anticipated Second Coming of Christ. But when the world did not end, the peoples of Western Europe suddenly found themselves with no choice but to begin the heroic task of building a Jerusalem on Earth. In The Forge of Christendom, Tom Holland masterfully describes this remarkable new age, a time of caliphs and Viking sea kings, the spread of castles, and the invention of knighthood.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Fantastic medieval history

  • By Lyle on 08-22-18

Pepin The Short to The Crusades

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 02-17-19

Libraries are full of books on the Roman Republic, the Roman Empire, the Crusades, the Middle Ages and the Reformation, but I have not found many books covering the period of the rise of Christianity so, for me, Mr Holland's book is a welcome addition. The book basically covers the period from the coronation of Pepin The Short to the First Crusade and describes both European history and that of the Catholic Church and how each influenced the other.

Mr Holland's writing style is not what I have generally come to expect in history books, and although there is a lot of information concerning the various royal families in Europe, the perils of being Italian at that time, the schism between the Western and Eastern Christian Churches and the invasion of England, the book takes a lighter approach than many and is full of Mr Holland's dry wit and almost lyrical in its prose. It also provides one of the best backgrounds I have found of many of the most important events in European and Christian history - William The Conquerer and the invasion of England, the change in the balance of power between the Kings of Europe and the Papacy, the relations between the Byzantine and Roman Church and their prelates, the relations between the Christian West and the Muslim world and how the Church and the general population viewed what was believed at the time to be the "End Times".

The book's title implied, at least to me, some explanation about how Christian history during this time aided in the rise of the West as a future power. The title contains the phrase "the Epic Rise of the West", but I found little information about how the Church of the time had any such influence on society and, at least in my opinion, there is nothing in the book to alter the general historic view that the change in question dated from the Renaissance. The election of Hilbebrand as Pope Gregory VII made the Catholic Church much more powerful and what is called the Rise of the West is generally attributed to the decreasing power of the Church.

My sole complaint about this book is the narration. Mr Holland narrates his own book and while that often has the advantage of allowing him to read the book as he intended it to be understood, he has a regrettable tendency to change between loud and almost whispered speech during the course of a single sentence, making it difficult at times to understand what he is saying. I often had to rewind and increase the volume to an almost painful level just to understand the last couple of words in a sentence.

I do recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in this period of European history. Just be prepared for a book that is not only informative, but entertaining.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • The Others

  • By: Jeremy Robinson
  • Narrated by: R. C. Bray
  • Length: 10 hrs and 15 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,846
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,686
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 2,674

Dan Delgado is a private investigator. He’s unenthusiastic, and unmatched. As a former San Francisco detective, he misses more meaningful work, but he hasn’t had the heart for it since his wife’s death five years prior. That is, until a phone call from a distraught mother, an illegal immigrant who can’t go to the police, puts him on the hunt for a missing little girl. By the time he reaches the mother’s small home, she’s missing, too. Then a team of heavily armed mercenaries arrive. Delgado and crew are plunged into a dangerous world of corporate competition, UFO lore, and government cover-ups.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Action packed humor

  • By Bree Salyer on 07-31-18

Where do I start?

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
2 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 01-18-19

It is hard to know where to start when reviewing this book. I am torn between the wonderful narration of R. C. Bray and the disappointing story line of The Others. This is science fiction book and I expect to have to suspend my beliefs a bit, but this book required far more than that and I was just incapable of disassociating myself from the real world enough to be able to adjust to the story line.

What starts out as a case of an abducted child turns into a story about real and imagined aliens, ancient civilizations, mind control, self guilt and a serious case of animus toward the LDS church. I am not a member of that church but I found the story line involving the church so offensive that I almost stopped reading the book. I have known many fine people who were members of the church or who had family members of that church and never heard of or saw anything like the behavior described in this book. I also found the writing inelegant and the story line confused with a tendency to go off on tangents. I feel torn between feeling that being able to finish this book was a personal triumph, considering how disjointed I felt the book to be, especially the end, and the feeling that I could have saved myself 5 or 6 hours if I had just given up.

What made the book worth finishing was the wonderful narration of RC Bray, but he has to deal with the material he is given, and I do not feel that the story was worth his talents.

37 of 45 people found this review helpful

  • State of the Union

  • By: Brad Thor
  • Narrated by: George Guidall
  • Length: 11 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,566
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,143
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 3,136

The most unlikely terrorist enemy of all now holds a knife against the country’s throat. With both diplomatic and conventional military options swept from the table, the president calls upon Navy SEAL turned Secret Service agent Scot Harvath to disable a brilliantly orchestrated conspiracy intended to bring the United States to its knees. Teamed with beautiful Russian Intelligence agent Alexandra Ivanova and a highly trained CIA paramilitary detachment, Harvath embarks on an adrenaline-fueled search that spans the world.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Thrilling!

  • By Loray on 01-31-11

The triumph of hope over experience

Overall
3 out of 5 stars
Performance
4 out of 5 stars
Story
3 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 12-11-18

This is my fifth Brad Thor book and, with the possible exception of Blowback, they all seem to suffer from the same issues. The plots are all clever and the writing is decent, but I never seem to feel any connection with the characters. This book is no different. We have an interesting plot with agents having to unravel several mysteries and perform several more largely impossible tasks, and since there is a follow-on book in the Scot Harvath series, we can be sure they will probably succeed, but nowhere along the line do I really care about the characters or 'who did it'.

I have most of the Jack Reacher series and when I start one of those books I have a hard time putting it down. I want to know what happens, who the villain is, what the subplot is and I care about Reacher even though I know he will be fine because there is another book in the series. The characters connect with me. Scott Harvath never has.

The book is narrated by George Guidall and, like all of the other books I have that he has narrated, he does a splendid job, but the characters never seem to be anything more than 2 dimensional. I will try to avoid being seduced by the plot of any more of this series as it just seems like a waste of my time and my credits. If, on the other hand, you have liked previous Scot Harvath books, you will probably like this one as well.

  • American Ulysses

  • A Life of Ulysses S. Grant
  • By: Ronald C. White
  • Narrated by: Arthur Morey
  • Length: 27 hrs and 35 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 2,173
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 2,013
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 1,998

A major new biography of the Civil War general and American president, by the author of the New York Times bestseller A. Lincoln. The dramatic story of one of America's greatest and most misunderstood military leaders and presidents, this is a major new interpretation of Ulysses S. Grant. Based on seven years of research with primary documents, some of them never tapped before, this is destined to become the Grant biography of our times.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • An Absolutely Superb Work

  • By Michael J. Nardotti, Jr. on 11-05-16

Absolutely wonderful.

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 11-16-18

I was uncertain about buying this book since I had already read all the volumes of Grant's autobiography as well as quite a few books about Grant's and Sherman's campaigns during the Civil War and I feared that purchasing it would be a waste of my time and money. I was wrong.

When I was in public school the history classes that covered the Civil War referred to Grant as a poor commander, someone who wasted human lives and only won because of the overwhelming numbers of Federal troops, and that was a view I carried with me as I became an adult, and it only began to change as I started to read newer books covering the war. Shelby Foote's multi-volume history made me start to believe that perhaps what I had been taught in school was wrong and, as I read more and more books about the campaigns in the West, I became increasingly convinced that my what I thought I knew of Grant and his generalship was wrong, and badly so.

American Ulysses is so well written that in spite of all I had previously read about Grant and his campaigns my interest never flagged and I found it difficult to stop listening. Arthur Morey's narration is so well suited to the material that time flew as I listened to the book and I found myself looking forward to listening to more the next day. The book is more of a biography than a retelling of the battles of the war and the narrative never gets bogged down in military details of how the battle progressed, but still manages to cover what happened and why.

A large part of the book covers Grant's life after Appomattox, his issues with the Johnson administration and his two terms as President and covers his efforts to insure that those freed by the Civil War were able to exercise their rights as citizens. All of this was new to me as it was never covered in my public school classes and was not in any of the Civil War books I read, but Grant was committed to insuring real freedom and citizenship for those freed by the war and his battles to try to insure the former slaves their freedom is covered in detail, as are the reasons for the failure of that effort.

Perhaps the most poignant parts of the book cover the period of his life when this man, so able to sort the wheat from the chaff in his generals, failed to see how he was taken advantage of by those he trusted. Mr White, and history, have shown that although Grant's administration was plagued by financial scandals, he himself was never touched by a hint of those scandals and left office with his honor and honesty intact. The final scandal, which bankrupted him, again involved those he trusted and his actions in trying to repay those debts that fell on him, only again proves how honest a man he was.

This is a wonderful biography, full of information new to me, wonderfully written and wonderfully narrated, and I highly recommend it to anyone interested in General Grant and his life.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • Augustus

  • First Emperor of Rome
  • By: Adrian Goldsworthy
  • Narrated by: Derek Perkins
  • Length: 18 hrs and 25 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 739
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 679
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 671

Caesar Augustus's story, one of the most riveting in western history, is filled with drama and contradiction, risky gambles and unexpected success. He began as a teenage warlord, whose only claim to power was as the heir of the murdered Julius Caesar. Mark Antony dubbed him "a boy who owes everything to a name," but in the years to come the youth outmaneuvered all the older and more experienced politicians and was the last man standing in 30 BC.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Excellent book about Rome's first Emperor

  • By Ryan on 03-03-15

The man who owed everything to a name

Overall
5 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
5 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 10-13-18

Who are the great historic figures? As a general rule we seem to consider those who had a great impact on their times and subsequent history as great, but if you were to ask people to name the great figures from Roman history you would likely get the names Julius Caesar, Cicero, perhaps the two Catos and Sulla. You might also get the names of some of the more notorious Roman emperors, Caligula and Nero, but would probably not get the name Augustus, although he had a far more lasting impact on Roman history than any of the others, including Julius Caesar. Perhaps Mr Goldsworthy is right in saying that part of that reason is that Shakespeare never wrote a tragedy about him, but his story, from being the young adopted son of Julius Caesar to his rise in power to being the most powerful and long lasting figure in Rome, is nothing short of astonishing and this book does a great service in explaining how the young Gaius Octavius rose to become the most powerful man in Rome and to live long enough to die peacefully in his bed at the age of 77.

This is the second of Mr Goldsworthy's biographies that I have read, the first being that of Julius Caesar, and the two books blend together nicely with the story of the young Octavius picking up with the assassination of Julius Caesar and, while the history of the Roman Civil War that stemmed from that event is interesting enough itself, the story of how young Octavius became Caesar Augustus, ruled Rome in a veiled monarchy and implemented relatively honest government was far more interesting to me. The fact that he was not a great general but relied upon his friend and associate Agrippa for many of his victories just seems to prove how great a man he was.

Mr Goldsworthy's writing is, as always, first class, and the story never failed in holding my interest. One of the things that I have found appealing in Mr Goldswrothy's writing is his constant honesty and even-handedness. When there is more than one explanation as to what might have happened, or in the circumstances surrounding some event, he always gives all of the possibilities along with his belief as to which is correct and why, and he never states conjecture as fact or describes the thoughts in the head of someone whose thoughts he could not possibly have known. The writing is straight forward and clear, the descriptions easy to understand and the influence of previous events always described. In short this is a great book, read wonderfully by Derek Perkins, and the reader can not fail to come away with a better understanding of the Rome of this period.

One last comment. Some have described Caesar Augustus as the cause of the end of the Roman Republic, but this book and the biography of Julius Caesar have done much to make clear that the Roman Republic actually died a long time before young Octavius set out to avenge his father's assassination. Julius Caesar stated that the Roman Republic was dead long before he brought his army back from Gaul and became dictator and Mike Duncan's book The Storm Before The Storm dates the decline and death of the Roman Republic back to the days of Pompey The Great and possibly earlier. If anything this book makes a strong case that Augustus' actions did more to save Rome than to destroy it, although those actions led directly to the excesses of some of the subsequent Emperors and the result of some generals plotting to become the next Emperor.

A great book, excellently read. Highly recommended for anyone interested in the history of the Roman Republic and the Roman Empire.



  • Commune

  • Commune, Book 1
  • By: Joshua Gayou
  • Narrated by: R.C. Bray
  • Length: 9 hrs and 46 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,655
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 4,426
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 4,412

For dinosaurs, it was a big rock. For humans: Coronal Mass Ejection (CME). When the Earth is hit by the greatest CME in recorded history (several times larger than the Carrington Event of 1859), the combined societies of the planet's most developed nations struggle to adapt to a life thrust back into the Dark Ages. In the United States, the military scrambles to speed the nation's recovery on multiple fronts including putting down riots, establishing relief camps, delivering medical aid, and bringing communication and travel back on line. Just as a real foothold is established in retaking the skies (utilizing existing commercial aircraft supplemented by military resources and ground control systems), a mysterious virus takes hold of the population, spreading globally over the very flight routes that the survivors fought so hard to rebuild.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • RC Bray as Hispanic Woman - Just Wow!

  • By Kurt Schwoppe on 05-03-18

A good book about life in the apocalypse

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

I have read a lot of books about possible apocalyptic events going all the way back to Philip Wylie and Edwin Balme's "When Worlds Collide", John Wyndham's "Day of the Triffids", Larry Niven's "Footfall" and Stephen King's "The Stand", but I mostly stopped buying them when they turned into Zombie books because I found most of those to be nothing but violence and killing with the only differences being how to kill the Zombies. There were some bright spots, like William R. Forstchen's "One Second After", but those were hard to find.

Given that I thought that this book was a welcome find. Here we have a world gone back to basics by the combined actions of a large Coronal Mass Ejection and a devastation plague, with only a few people left alive. As expected, the book deals with efforts to survive in a very hostile environment where normal interactions between people have become dangerous and the bounds of propriety have ceased to exist. What makes this book interesting are the characters involved and the way the tale is told, with four main characters who meet and form a family of sorts and try to survive in a world where all of the norms have disappeared. While there is violence, most of the story is basically the tales of the people, all of whom seem both reasonably drawn and normal. There are no Rambos here, no people with abnormal abilities and no situations that seem out of reason given the premise of the story. I found I cared about all of them, about what happened to them and what their futures might hold, and I plan to buy the sequel to see how the story continues to unfold.

If you are looking for Zombies, this is not your book. If you are looking for the tale of people trying to survive in a world irrevocably changed, where danger lurks everywhere and life hangs at a thread, you might want to give this book a try. It is the best book of this type that I have read since "One Second After" and, although different in many ways, is as good as that book was.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Darkest Hour

  • How Churchill Brought England Back from the Brink
  • By: Anthony McCarten
  • Narrated by: John Lee
  • Length: 6 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    4.5 out of 5 stars 617
  • Performance
    4.5 out of 5 stars 546
  • Story
    4.5 out of 5 stars 543

May 1940. Britain is at war, Winston Churchill has unexpectedly been promoted to prime minister, and the horrors of Blitzkrieg witness one Western European democracy fall after another in rapid succession. Facing this horror, with pen in hand and typist-secretary at the ready, Churchill wonders what words could capture the public mood when the invasion of Britain seems mere hours away. It is this fascinating period that Anthony McCarten captures in this deeply researched and wonderfully written new book, The Darkest Hour.

  • 5 out of 5 stars
  • Gripping

  • By Jean on 12-06-17

The power of speech

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

This book covers a short period of time from Churchill becoming Prime Minister to the end of the Dunkirk evaluation and centers on some of the great speeches Mr Churchill gave that convinced his fellow MPs that he was the right man for the job, that he meant to fight Germany with everything Britain had and that they had a chance of victory. The speeches involved contain some of the greatest quotes from Churchill and Mr McCarten looks at the speeches to see why they were so influential and how they saved Great Britain.

But the book is more than just a look at his speeches, how they were written and the effect they had. It is also a pocket history of the events so that the speeches are put into the proper perspective given the events of the time. There are some old recordings that Churchill made of these speeches after they were given (recording was not allowed in Parliament) and they were powerful enough to bring chills to me listening to them more than 75 years after they were originally given, and this book shows the power of a well delivered speech to motivate, encourage and inspire a people to do what is necessary. This book is a good addition to any collection of books about one of the most momentous periods in history when freedom literally balanced on the edge of a knife.

In my life I have probably read more than 100 books about this period of time, and while none of the information in this book is really new to me, given when I had already learned from previous books, this book is unique in that it concentrates on a critical period when it become possible for life to triumph over death, for freedom to conquer slavery and for the right to win against a dark and terrible force.

Recommended for anyone interested in the history of World War II.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

  • The Eagle's Prey

  • Eagles of the Empire, Book 5
  • By: Simon Scarrow
  • Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
  • Length: 13 hrs and 36 mins
  • Unabridged
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars 148
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars 137
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars 136

It is late summer AD 44, and the battle-weary Roman legions are in their second year of campaigning against the British tribes. The troops' commander, General Plautius, is under pressure from the emperor to crush the natives once and for all. Centurions Macro and Cato are with the crack Second Legion under the precarious leadership of Centurion Maximus, and it's their task to hold a ford across the river Tamesis when the natives are forced into a trap.

  • 4 out of 5 stars
  • Solid Book.

  • By Timothy on 09-09-17

Decimation

Overall
4 out of 5 stars
Performance
5 out of 5 stars
Story
4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed: 09-15-18

Macro and Cato are in trouble again, and this time it is very serious for Cato as his century has been selected for Decimation due to an order from a disgraced Centurian that led to a lost battle, and he and his men must find a way to elude the Legions looking for them and win their way back into the good graces of the army.

The story, as usual, is gripping and the descriptions seem as accurate as ever, but what makes these novels so interesting for me is that the characters involved seem full-fleshed and real, the situations they find themselves in seem reasonable, at least for those Roman times, and I find that I care about them as though they were real people. Mr Scarrow's writing is, as always, sharp, clean and gripping and the narration is as fine as ever. I know they will come through their troubles since there are other books following this one, but it always seems as though it is impossible and the tension comes at least as much as how they will do it as if they will do it.

Another wonderful book for those interested in the Roman Legions and the trial and tribulations of Macro and Cato.